Scattered Brainings XV

26 01 2012

* What ever happened to common courtesy? Have we become so consumed in our own lives and problems that we cannot be bothered to even be the slightest bit friendly? We have an open plan office setup at work. At some or other point in the day, you are likely to cross paths with most of the people in your section, like when you go to pick stuff up or make copies at the printer. The least you can do is to give the other person a smile, or at least a nod of acknowledgement when they say ‘hullo’ to you (though saying ‘hullo’ back would be preferable). Many times, this does not happen. I’m not asking you to be the nicest person in the world, but if I say ‘hullo’ to you, would it really kill you to say ‘hullo’ back? I’m now at the point where I’ve given up trying and don’t greet certain people when I see them because I cannot elicit a response from them. Time to bake some murder muffins

* About a week ago, one of my colleagues asked me how I was doing despite – and I quote – “the deer-caught-in-the-headlights look” that can be seen on many a face when referring to the upcoming submissions. Being me, I immediate wondered how this would translate into fashion – what would the key colours, style and accessories be for that definitive deer-caught-in-the-headlights look? What will make you look confused, scared, and ‘cute’ all at the same time? (Confession: I think I may be losing it…)

* Saw this on Facebook and just had to share. As a Scooby-Doo fan, I approve:

* Last week, while dining out, my Significant Other asked me: ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’ This is one of the most annoying/ scary/ shrug-inducing questions ever uttered by man. I had this sudden urge to answer, “About two and a half months away from turning 30”, but decided against it.

* Don’t you just hate it when something silly/ annoying gets stuck in your head for days on end? You have that song playing in your mind when you wake up; it sneaks in every hour or so while you’re busy working; and it might just make another appearance before you go to sleep. Oh, and don’t forget the accompanying imagery! I watched a certain YouTube video that has been ‘harassing’ my mind for perhaps over a week now. I have four words for you: “Every day I’m shuffling”

* I’m a bit worried (already) that I won’t reach the goal I set myself for my 2012 Reading Challenge on Goodreads. Last year I was able to read 145 books (yes I did!), with my initial goal being 100.  This year, I’ve decided to set the bar at 100 again, and then see how it goes. I was off to a bad start since it took me nearly two weeks to get through one book – not because I’m a slow reader, but simply because it failed to fully capture my attention. Luckily I’ve been able to pick up the pace and am ‘on track’, according to Goodreads… yet things are going to be super busy until mid-March here at work. I’ll just have to catch up…

* Paper cuts. (Enough said?) I am the self-proclaimed queen of paper cuts. It’s not that I get a paper cut every day or anything like that (although, yes, there are often days when they appear out of thin air and leave me exasperated as to their precise origin). It’s just how things turn out when I do get one. When I get a paper cut, it has to be exceptional. Take Tuesday, for example. Three paper cuts… on the same finger… at the Exact. Same. Time. (!!!)

* Yesterday morning on our way to work, I told my Significant Other that I’m not meant/ cut out for writing. (Haters gonna’ hate?) I just feel disconnected from my writing. Stephen King says that if you have any hope of becoming a successful writer, you should read a lot and write a lot. I’ve got the reading part down pat, yet I am lacking in the writing part. I have been consumed by the schools sector of the written word… I still enjoy reading other people’s manuscripts (not only at work, though it is part of my job – I’m talking about actual ‘real-world’ novel writers) and doing some editing/ providing feedback… but that makes me feel… I don’t know… like a hypocrite? They say those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach… or edit. Which has always bugged me. Because if you yourself cannot write, how can you teach someone else to do it and tell them what is right/ wrong (or grade them on it, *cough* one of my university lecturers *cough*)? In any case, I think I need a big nudge to get me started on my own writing again.

* Being home alone in the evening makes me want to bake and watch a Disney movie (usually THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG or TANGLED). Why is that? I ended up baking raisin-and-flaked-almond oats bars last night… and watching THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG… again…

Topped off with melted chocolate chips!!

* I say the word ‘um’ a lot… at work… while talking to my line manager. This annoys me. It reminds me of an English lecturer we had at university who would say “and, um…” before/ after Every. Single. Sentence. Not the best way to focus on PARADISE LOST, I can assure you.

* Since I have a pear-shaped figure, does that mean I should only eat pears? Or can eating a different fruit help change my shape? *Ponder* I’ve heard of people who are pear or apple shaped, but not a word about any other fruit. If you were banana shaped, would you be bent? Are small, plump/ round people grapes? And what about really large people – are they watermelons? I’m thinking about this too much!!

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Some Christmas blog entries

19 12 2011

Well hullo, dearest blog readers!

I hope that you’ve all got your bells jingling and the halls decked, because there are only 5 more ‘sleeps’ until we hit Christmas Eve!

Many people are already on holiday (lucky them), but if you’re like me and still working until the last (which, for me, is Friday), then you don’t have to feel ‘ashamed’ if you haven’t been experiencing the feel-good spirit that the festive season is supposed to evoke. It still doesn’t feel like Christmas is around the corner. All I can think about is work, work, work…

I do have my tree up, though – that should count for something!! 😉

Small but suitable for our apartment

There's even an edible candycane on the tree!

Smudgy's very own stocking

Let's jingle some bells!

Ooh, shiny...

I spent last night baking some Christmas cookies while watching THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, so I’m sure that counts as getting in to the spirit of things… right? Now all I need to really get me going is to watch my favourite ‘Christmas’ movie: DIE HARD!

I know lots of people search for Christmas-related blog entries around this time, which is why I decided to share a few of my old entries that I thought you’d enjoy. I’ll see if I can find time to be cynical and get my “bah humbug” on before the 25th 😉

Yippee-ki-yay…

FESTIVE RAMBLINGS:

* It’s Christmas time

* Christmas: Fall Out Boy style

* Call me Cookie

* “Oh I’m the happiest Christmas tree…”

* Christmas carols with a twist

* Garfield – the 12 courses of dinner

* Christmas with South Park

* Christmas carols with LOLcats

* The 12 days of Christmas: Pokémon style

* Cartoon Christmas specials I grew up with

* Christmas sing-along with Garfield

* Holiday cheer?





Holiday cheer?

5 12 2011

I’m not sure how festive this season will turn out to be…

We’re standing at the 5th of December, and I have yet to hear any Christmas music blaring in the shopping centres. The closest I’ve come to this was when my Significant Other and I were sitting in a restaurant last Thursday evening and a total of two (if even) Christmassy songs played softly in the background. The only thing going on in the shopping centres is absolute madness. This past weekend proved it, and I am glad that all my Christmas shopping is done… because if it was bad last weekend, it’s only going to get exponentially worse once schools close this coming Friday. Having the kiddies around the complex is going to be a reeeaaal treat for my Significant Other…

One of the local radio stations launched the Boney M Acclimatisation Program (BMAP) in November. Every other morning, they play a Boney M song, allowing people to get used to the so-called ‘brainwashing-waves’ (brainwashing + brainwaves, get it?)  in hopes to help them from spending all their money on gifts when their ears are assaulted by the festive tunes. Although this is cute and funny/ silly, I find it rather hard to swallow how people use aforementioned music as an excuse for their excessive shopping. ‘Oh, it wasn’t my fault – the Boney M music started playing, and it was like I lost control of my mental faculties. Really, I couldn’t help myself!!’ *roll eyes*

Okay, everybody, let's put more spendy frenzy into the chorus!

Great, so now everybody is against Christmas music… religious nuts, shoppers, my Significant Other… I started listening to some festive tunes yesterday, then felt ‘guilty’ because my S.O. doesn’t much care for it (even though I had my headphones on and he wasn’t there), so I turned it off.

Then there’s the little matter of Christmas trees. I wrapped all our gifts yesterday (hurray for me!) and will be putting up our little tree this evening, which is a step in the festive direction for our domicile. I’m not sure the same can be said for my parental home. It’s the first year since forever – probably since my older sister was little, which makes it 27 years ago – that my parentals will have a fake Christmas tree. Although it’s nice to have a real tree, it just becomes more and more expensive every year, and if you add all of that up over the years, it’s a lot of money! With a fake tree – nice and tall to fit into their living room with the high ceiling – you save money in the long run, plus you help to save some trees. All that’s good and well, but the reason I don’t think that things are all tinsel and baubles and happy sparkling lights, is the fact that my younger sister Addy refuses to decorate the fake tree… which she calls ‘that thing’ with great antagonism.

My work here is done...

Oh, and did I mention how I was looking forward to the release of the latest edition of the Sarie Kos (Sarie Food) magazine, only to find nothing Christmassy about it? *shakes head* Perhaps I should have some of those ‘Christmas’ truffles I bought to make myself feel better.

I could always spread some of the holiday cheer around the office by baking some cookies! My Significant Other bought me some more cookies cutters over the weekend, so now I have a Christmas tree, snowman and reindeer I can use! Since I’ll be working until the 23rd of December (and I think others will, as well), I’m sure we’ll be needing those sweet treats to boost our morale.

Plus point: summer hasn’t been very summery over here thus far (yesterday’s 37 degrees Celsius excluded), so I’m hoping for a cool Christmas. It’ll sure beat unbearable heat and help fight off sluggishness and irritability (not the best combination for happy faces and feelings of harmony)…

So, how do you feel about Christmas 2011?





Christmas is a-comin’…

28 11 2011

Good morning, blog readers

I hope you all had a nice weekend. I spent some time with my family, baked some goodies (chocolate cake, cupcakes & cookies!), and had to help my Significant Other move our entire bedroom around because he bought a second air-conditioner (this included making cupboard space by unpacking, repacking and sorting what I would or wouldn’t need/ use anymore).

So the ‘countdown’ to Christmas has begun. Truth be told, I have yet to hear any Christmas music playing in the shopping centres or grocery stores. Some people say that they have heard the carols playing and angel choirs a-singin’, but I’m not sure how much of it we’ll be hearing this year. There’s been a movement to have Christmas music banned/ toned-down since people find it offensive (or use it as an excuse why they’re spending so much). I think it’s quite sad… I myself am not religious, but neither is all Christmas music, and Christmas isn’t just about religion. It’s a time for family and friends, a time to be together and be grateful, to show what others mean to us and just have a nice, relaxing, feel-good time. It’s the one time of year that you ‘have’ to do aforementioned (though we should be aiming for this throughout the entire year).

My Significant Other isn’t a big fan of Christmas music, anyway, so I foresee many evenings and weekends of me sitting with my headphones on 😉 At least he doesn’t mind a Christmas tree in the apartment.

Speaking of the festive/ holiday season, I’m halfway with my shopping. I’ve bought Christmas gifts for my two sisters, my Significant Other and my mother-in-law, plus a birthday gift for my mum. That just leaves Christmas gifts for my parents and my sister’s husband, and a birthday gift for my older sister. Perhaps I should try to find something for Smudgy, as well… *laugh*

There’s the gift of giving and the rapture of receiving, but the most important thing of the festive season is being together and showing that we care. Like Garfield says:

“Christmas: It’s not the giving, it’s not the getting – it’s the loving.”

Have a great Monday!





On the (interesting) subject of cupcakes

13 09 2011

After I posted the pictures of the rainbow cupcakes on my blog last week, I started pondering: where does the cupcake’s origin lie? Are there any interesting facts about it? When/ where do you serve cupcakes? I’ve probably put more thought into a simple cupcake than most people would give it (other than the obvious fact that it’s ‘pretty’ or ‘tasty’).

So, by doing a little bit of research, I learnt that no one is actually clear about the origin of the treat (its unknown status perhaps adding to its appeal?), but that recipes for the small cake have been in print since the late 18th/ early 19th century. Two hundred years of dainty delights! [NOTE: the Americans claim that they contributed the cupcake to the world of confectionary. Why am I not surprised…] I can just see the women in London during the Season, all a flutter at the treat– fanning their faces, sipping their tea, and remarking on how clever and light these small cakes were:

“How ingenious, my dear Miss Standish, for it could fit in my very teacup!”

“Quite so, Mrs Blake. Indeed they are so pretty to look at, and so small, it might break one’s heart to take a bite.”

“But they are so light and delicate, you see, that they will suit my constitution well – my strength is quite depleted after our journey from Bath, so much that I find myself faint without sustenance.”

“Have another, Mrs Blake, for the bit of sweetness does seem to have brought some rosiness back to your countenance. It would be a shame for you to miss the Duke’s ball tonight.”

“Why thank you, dear child. It would not do for us to be absent… I must ask Mrs Dentley for the recipe of this delightful treat! Indeed, it will be the talk of the ton – I would not be surprised if the Prince Regent himself shows up tonight to compliment her on her excellent taste.”

Okay, I might have gotten a  bit carried away and really stupid, but at least be glad that I didn’t spin a Banbury Tale and have them talking about fairies and mini tea parties *laugh*

What makes a cupcake such a delightful little thing? For one, it usually isn’t very sweet, unless you count the icing (aka frosting) it’s decorated with. One reason why cupcakes might seem and taste ‘plain’ against other confectionary is because the first cakes were more bread-like, i.e. not (very) sweet. [If you think about it, the original dividing line between (cup)cakes and bread is fairly thin, since they use pretty much the same ingredients.] Very basic ingredients – such as butter, eggs, flour – were used, and they only sweetened the cakes up a bit afterwards with honey, nuts and (later) dried fruit.

Oh, and of course they were named ‘cupcakes’ because they were baked in pottery cups, moulds and small bowls. But you probably deduced as much, didn’t you? What you likely didn’t know is that there’s another reason why they were called cupcakes or 1-2-3-4: because the recipe called for cupsful of the ingredients – a cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, four eggs… cups, cups, my kingdom for some cups!

Since a plain cupcake isn’t too sweet, it’s a great treat for people who don’t have a sweet tooth or who might get headaches due to the richness of some cakes. Rich chocolate cake + layers of sticky sweet mousse icing in between + decadently dark gateaux on top = worst. migraine. EVER.

Cupcakes work well for birthday parties, where mom can put a small amount of icing on top, thus reducing the little tykes’ sugar intake (which usually results in a high) and making her job of quieting them down much easier. Cupcakes feature at a kitchen tea/ tea party (where half the fun is ‘ooh’-ing and ‘aah’-ing over the various bite sized nibbles that have been prepared… the other half in eating them); Stork Parties (little treats celebrating the little bundle of joy about to arrive, perhaps signifying how plain and vulnerable it may seem, but what a delight such a sweet little thing can bring); and any other occasion that you can think of.

They are also popular at weddings! Cupcakes are small enough to satisfy everyone, plus the ‘packaging’ allows guests to take them home – it’s not like you need a plastic container to put them in, like a piece of cake, since cupcakes usually come in their own shiny/ aluminium/ paper cups. They are less messy than a large cake, what with people cutting it to pieces, getting crumbs all over the place, smearing chocolate/ icing/ mousse/ gateaux on the organza table runners you hired… you get the idea 🙂 It adds a bit of personal touch, showing that you thought of everyone and that you wanted to ensure that each person would get one (which isn’t always the case with cake; sometimes it even seems like such a bother to hang around waiting for a small slice…)

But enough about that. I promised you a few interesting facts, so here they are:

* The World’s Smallest Cupcake was baked in Great Britain and measured in at 1.5 cm (h) x 3 cm (w)!

* The first cupcakes were covered (‘frosted’) with lard to serve as a kind of gravy… *shudder*

* Winston Churchill suggested that cupcakes should have sweet frosting on top (thank you!!!)

* Apparently Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – by John Lennon – is actually about cupcakes. Huh…

* …and H.P. Lovecraft stated that an overdose of cupcakes led to him creating Cthulhu. Sure, locking yourself in a basement and getting high on the sugar from 12 cupcakes results in weird hallucinations of mythical creatures for all of us.

* There are more than 500 different kinds of cupcakes. That’ll keep cupcakes enthusiasts busy.

* There’s a record for someone consuming 29 cupcakes in 30 seconds. (I wouldn’t want to be his stomach.)

* Cupcakes, along with other baked treats, have been banned from schools in NYC in an attempt to decrease the rising rate of obesity. The sad thing, however, is that some of those kids’ parents are irresponsible and then load them up with as much sugar as their little hearts’ desire (without them getting a bit of exercise or a healthy diet).

* Cats lack the gene that permit mammals to taste sweet things… and yet, my cat seems to like cupcakes (along with other sweet treats!) Guess if you present a cat with something to eat and it doesn’t seem ‘dangerous’ or ‘offensive’, it won’t give two meows about whether it can taste it or not… So keep it all to yourself!! *nom nom nom* [Perhaps now people will stop taking and captioning pictures of cats with sweet treats. The only time it would be ‘suitable’ is if you bring in some irony/ sarcasm. Kitty is not impressed by your cute cupcake. Not. At. ALL.]





Scattered Brainings: the music edition

7 01 2011

* What’s with all the annoying music on the radio? One can barely stand to listen to it, excluding the news and traffic updates, of course (which is vital).

* There are only three Ke$ha songs I can listen to: TiK-ToK, YOU’RE LOVE IS MY DRUG and TAKE IT OFF. The rest makes my ears want to bleed… another reason not to listen to the radio.

* Willow Smith is nine years old. Nine, and she’s already starting to become a singing ‘sensation’ (despite the fact that her song WHIP MY HAIR makes me want to strangle her with it and stop that annoying sound coming from her mouth that is deemed ‘singing’). I shudder to even contemplate how she’s going to turn out by the time she’s sixteen or eighteen.

* People don’t seem to know how to write songs anymore, which is why the ruin remake old songs. Those songs – like ELECTRIC AVENUE and (I’VE HAD) THE TIME OF MY LIFE – are ‘classics’ in their own right. Don’t butcher them.

* My Significant Other doesn’t care much for Katy Perry’s music, and although I agree that FIREWORK only seems to be one long repetition of the chorus, I cannot help but like her second album, as well. Maybe I am a bit ‘girly’.

* Apparently repetition in a song is what makes it ‘appealing’ and causes it to sell. But having Shakira stuck in my head for the second (or third?) day in a row is making me loca loca loca

* Whenever Cee-Lo Green’s FORGET YOU plays on the radio, I need to turn up the volume. It’s a feel good song… and definitely stands out above the rest of the noise.

* Four months until the wedding and I cannot decide on an opening song (for the dance floor). Pretty keen on AT THE BEGINNING – from the animated film ANASTASIA – though I have no idea how one would dance on that. Perhaps I should stick to slow dancing and opt for Jamie Cullum’s I’M GLAD THERE IS YOU. (Then again, there are so many great songs, how does one pick?)

* On a related note – i.e. wedding – trying to decide on an opening song makes me thing of the movie THE WEDDING PLANNER. “Are you aware that Fran has chosen teal for her bridesmaids? Teal – the colour of gangrene… Oh, oh, and I honestly love you as your wedding song? You might as well commit matrimonial suicide right now!” 🙂

* I’d almost go as far as saying that I’d rather listen to the Jingle Cats meowing away over the airwaves than what they currently have on offer… though it might drive one crazy after a few songs…

* I’m going to try and make a list of some of the songs they play ad nauseum on the radio. I say ‘some’ since the list could get quite long – perhaps I could do it in segments… Watch this space.

* This morning my mind was overflowing with things I could say in this post, yet now, I am drawing a blank. How typical.





A birthday dedication

4 01 2011

Today is my Significant Other’s birthday! 😀

The following lyrics have come with me a looong way – ever since I was young, in fact, and every year we play it for whoever’s birthday it happens to be in our family. My younger sister even put it on a mixed tape for me for my 14th birthday…

…which was ten years ago, give or take three months.

Man, I’m getting old.

So here’s HAPPY BIRTHDAY by New Kids on the Block – especially for you, Sweetheart! My Love, my Life, my Everything…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Happy birthday to you, this is your day.
On this day for you we’re gonna love you in every way.
This is your day, your day, happy birthday to you, to you, to you.

Happy birthday to you, you’re still young.
Age is just a number, don’t you stop having fun.
This is your day, your day, happy birthday to you.
This day only comes once every year,
Because you’re so wonderful with each and everything you do, hey!

Happy birthday to you, this is your day.
On this day for you we’re gonna love you in every way.
This is your day, your day, happy birthday to you, to you.
This day is only for you, ’cause you’re so special in every way,
Happy birthday to you!